Eating and Entertainment Like a Singapore Local

Must-read Earlier Installments:

Singapore is one of my favorite cities just to live and be in. It’s a fantastic food city, both at the high and the low end. For instance, I love Waku Ghin at the Marina Bay Sands. (Iggy’s, less so.) And there’s just nothing like the Singapore Hawker Center food stalls, here’s my guide to eating at hawker centers. The zoo is great and there’s a fantastic coffee culture.

So I don’t mind rainy days, where it’s more difficult to play tourist, because it’s such a great city to live like I would at home.

I went to a mall in the Orchard Road area to see Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part I at a Platinum Movie Suites (discounted tickets and 10% off food with a World MasterCard).

The food menu didn’t sound especially appealing that afternoon, so we ate in the mall.

I did like this slogan at the theatre, though:

The theatre featured recliner-style seating and tableside service, like I’ve come to find at the iPic theatres in the US (having been in Austin, Seattle, Phoenix, and Boca Raton).

I much like that even quick service restaurants in a mall in Singapore can be quite good.

I paid at the restaurant counter, and couldn’t resist snapping a photo of the rewards card they were promoting there:

Other shops in the mall were noteworthy, too.

Fortunately there was only a real downpour for part of my time in Singapore, I was able to get out to the real food stalls. Here’s the Hong Lim Food Center.

That meant Sugar Cane drink.

And the best Char Kway Teow I’ve ever eaten at Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee, stall #02-17.

While there, I wanted some duck rice, so I just found the place for it that had a line and trusted that the locals knew where it was worth paying more (price is basically the same at other stalls, but you pay by queuing).

From there it was walkable to pick up some pastries at a shop that had been recommended for egg tarts, Tong Heng less than 10 minutes away.

Back to the Orchard Road neighborhood of the Grand Hyatt, I enjoy sitting outside (under a ceiling fan) and people watching from the coffee shop next door in front of the JW Marriott.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Now that is good real food. You can have those molecular biology concocted appetizer “meals” and HiSo Thai places. Street food is the real deal in Asia! At least we share some similar tastes.

  2. Maybe i am doing something wrong…but i find Singapore to be one of the most overrated cities in the world. I found it to be boring and somewhat Disneyland-like. I’ve been twice now for 2 nights each time. I found little to no entertainment in the city, and found no good spots to people watch or walk around at night. There is practically no night life (even though i’m not a club hopper i do enjoy a pint on occasion). The food spots i ate at were actually quite bad compared to other SE Asian cities, and i really enjoy Asian food. Orchid Rd wasn’t all that impressive, but at least it gives you something to do since that is about the only form of entertainment i found. It just didn’t seem to be all that interesting city to walk around and be a tourist in. Am i alone on this one?

  3. @Frank

    I completely agree. While I may be a little biased (I was born in Australia but my parents are from Hong kong and Guang Zhou), Singapore is way to clinical and sterile for me to be the real Asia. Give me Hong Kong, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh or KL any day. They have that little bit of chaos that Asian cities need. Even Seoul and Tokyo have their own unique vibe about them. Best way I describe Singapore is that its Asia for beginners…

  4. Great post, Gary! It would be great if you could do this for several other cities as well.

    @Frank, I think you definitely didn’t do it right if Orchard Road was “the only form of entertainment” you could find. Orchard Road itself is indeed not that great.

    If you love local food, you’d be spoilt for choice. Some are really good too (as Gary has shown in his previous posts).

    I love a slow night stroll along the Marina Bay area (from the Fullerton Hotel to the Esplanade and the Marina Bay Sands).

    As for night life, I think the locals would disagree, although I don’t know enough to comment. I went to Clarke Quay and I thought it was a great area to chill out at night.

  5. @Frank, if you like the hustle of some of the places mentioned by some people here Singapore is most definitely not the place for you.. however there are interesting things and places you can do… for a one stop local food place check out Chinafood street if the weather is good, it is not some place that I would go myself (too hot with no a/c) but some people like that sort of thing. In Singapore the past time is basically to eat or drink all day.. so people seek out interesting and different places to eat etc…if you like the higher end stuff and dont mind the sometimes crazy crowds check out kudeta at marina bay sands for a drink, they go on till late. For food or outdoor lounge with an amazing view check out me@oue at OUE Bayfront. For an interesting local food you cannot simply find in a hawker centre check out Immigrants Gastro pub, Peramakan, Sum kee Foods and last but not least Hua yu wee. You can find all the details on google of course…. check them out the next time you are in town… weekday night life in Singapore is practically non existent.. maybe Clark Quay.. there is a diff sort of night life that goes on everyday of the week but I shall keep it family friendly here LOL

  6. Thanks for a great write-up of one of my favourite cities!

    I see there’re a few people who don’t like Singapore too much, but often it’s because many people come to the city expecting to see rickshaws and farmers in straw hats. The modern city that Singapore is very often throws them off, and I think that’s a reason for much of the bad press.

    Having said that, all you need to do is scratch beneath the surface a little and you see a city that is still very Asian in many ways with the temples and markets. Sure, it’s not as gritty as the bird market in Yogjakarta, but you shouldn’t expect that from Singapore. I also think it’s one of Asia’s most multicultural cities. Others — like Bangkok, Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, Mumbai, Tokyo — are essentially monocultural cities.

  7. Glad you enjoyed my (current) hometown. Haven’t had a chance to try out that particular Char Kway Teow but need to rectify this next time I’m in the Outram Park are.

    Do you know the “Singapore City Gallery”? It’s a free exhibition about Singapore’s past and future in the URA building, right next to the famous Maxwell Food Centre.

    Seeing that you were pointing out a great OCBC credit card, do you (or others here) have recommendations for a blog similar to yours focusing on the different mileage programs that make most sense for those of us based in Asia? (Collecting OneWorld Miles on AA and SkyTeam miles on DL might not make all that much sense…)

  8. Gary, I’m in SG now. Couple questions about the platinum theater. T&C says World Elite Mastercard $5 off is good until Dec 31, 2014. Do you know if it continues into 2015? Also, can you get the discount when paying online?

  9. @Frank and @Hamster: for nightlife in Singapore, go to Duxton Hill or Club Street. Lots of cool restaurants and bars, cool atmosphere and great people watching.

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